August 2001

Sex fiend jailed for life

ON Friday sex fiend Patrick Campbell, who attacked women and teenage girls over a five year period – including raping a 14-year-old girl, was caged for life.

He was snared as a result of an eleven-year manhunt which bore fruit because of advances in forensic science and the public response to a national television programme.

When arrested for the rape and six indecent assaults for which he was sentenced today (Fri) 36-year-old Campbell was serving two and half years imposed last December for indecently assaulting a young girl.

Judge David Clarke, QC, the Recorder of Liverpool, said, “You have pleaded guilty to an extremely serious catalogue of extremely serious sexual offences.

“Apart from the first which was committed against a 41-year-old woman they were committed against young teenagers who were strangers to you. The appalling and degrading nature of the offences require no further words from me.

“The ordeal to which you subjected each of your victims was quite unimaginiable. It is clear from the way you behaved over a five-year period that you are a very dangerous man.

“An experienced probation officer was quite near the mark when he describes your behaviour as a perverted exercise of power over victims for whom you showed no concern.

Judge Clarke said that Campbell would not be eligible for parole for twelve years.

Gasps of “Yes” from tearful members of the public gallery, which included four victims, greeted the life sentence. Campbell, who was surrounded by four Group 4 officers in the dock, was emotionless throughout.

Merseyside Police set up an investigation codenamed Operation Dragon in 1991 when forensic evidence established a link between the offences committed against five of the victims. By 1995 more than 500 suspects had been looked at and the case also figured briefly on Crimewatch in 1991.

Until the National DNA database was established in 1995 suspects were eliminated via blood samples but from then on more effective comparisons were possible from DNA samples, said Neil Flewitt, prosecuting.

The process continued until last September when the case featured more extensively on Crimewatch. After the programme Campbell’s name was put forward by a number of callers. By chance he had been arrested in Torquay last October and a mouth swab taken from him which established a link between him and the Operation Dragon offences.

On January 15 while in custody Campbell, of Lordens Road, Huyton, was arrested and interviewed and provided a blood sample and mouth swab.

Mr Flewitt told LIverpool Crown Court that Campbell’s first victim was a 41-year-old Huyton woman who was attacked as she walked home from an evening Sunday service at her local church in October 1989. He approached her from behind and performed an incident act from which police later obtained a DNA profile.

His next victim in January 1991 was a 14-year-old Whiston virgin. She was with friends when they heard a man shout “Oy” and they saw him acting indecently near some bushes. They ran off and the girl’s two friends decided to walk towards Rainhill Village but she began walking home along Warrington Road.

She walked past Whiston Hospital and into Delph Lane and the man ran through the hospital car park, emerged ahead of her and disaappeared.

As she got level with the path leading to the nurses’ home she felt a hand go around her mouth and neck. She screamed but was pulled further down the track. As she struggled he he threatened to kill her and raped her.

Afterwards the bruised and bleeding girl ran to a friend’s nearby house from where the police were called. When eventually interviewed about that attack Campbell said he was on drink and drugs at the time but asked to explain why he committed the offence he replied, “Just obviously I’m sick, I’m sick.”

Mr Flewitt said that in August 1991 Campbell attacked a 17-year-old at a bus stop in Eccleston, who had left her friend’s house to go home. She was engaged in conversation by Campbell who walked up and down behind her while she waited for her bus.

He suddenly grabbed her from behind, put a hand over her mouth and dragged her towards the driveway of a nearby house whose occupants were away. He pushed her up against an outbuilding, and indecently assaulted her. He escaped over a barbed wire fence but a DNA profile was obtained from her blouse.

His next two victims were 14-year-old Rainhill schoolgirls in November 1991 who were in school grounds at about 6.30 pm. He grabbedf them. He repeatedly indecently assaulted them in a school grounds. After he had gone they got dressed and the police were called.

His final two victims were a 13-year-old girl and her 15-year-old boyfriend in Northwich, Cheshire, in November 1994.